They’re chipping away against climate change

Monday September 11, 2017 Written by Published in Local
Niue Island Organic Farmers’ Association project coordinator Alana Tukuniu with a basic composting operation that will benefi t from the project. 17090831 Niue Island Organic Farmers’ Association project coordinator Alana Tukuniu with a basic composting operation that will benefi t from the project. 17090831

This weekly column is supplied by Te Ipukarea Society. It deals with conservation and environmental issues of interest to the Cook Islands. In late August Te Ipukarea Society’s Kelvin Passfield travelled to Niue to work until early September with the Niue Island Organic Farmers Association (NIOFA) to develop a climate change adaptation project. 



This is a part of the Australian Government-funded Global Environment Facility Small Island Developing States Community Based Adaptation (GEF SIDS CBA) project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme.

Passfield held a short workshop with members of the staff and executive committee of NIOFA. He explained about the project, and also shared information about how Te Ipukarea Society was established 20 years ago and about the wide range of environmental work that we carry out in the Cook Islands. They were particularly interested in how we raise funds to support the work that we do.

During the workshop, a concept was developed for a project to improve the resilience of organic farming on the island to the impacts of climate change.

The main focus will be improving the quality of the soil through composting.  The project will supply two medium-sized wood chippers that will produce mulch from the trimmings from the organic vanilla and nono plantations on the island.

NIOFA has 47 registered organic farmers on their books, though not all are active. It will also support the Niue High School which will be able to use compost in their small school gardens, learning about the value of using waste organic matter for composting to improve production from their small garden. 

Another request from NIOFA for the project related to helping them cope with more frequent periods of limited rainfall. A portable water tank capable of holding around 600 litres, and a trailer to transport it to the plantations, will be provided. This will draw upon ground water and be used to irrigate plantations in time of drought. Along with the mulch from the wood chippers, this will help maintain the moisture levels in the soils during times of drought.

The project will also be used to replicate the success story from the current GEF Small Grants Project being implemented by Te Ipukarea Society throughout all schools the Cook Islands, where students are learning about composting and worm farms. As well as Niue High School, the more active early childhood centres in Niue will receive a worm farm and training. A weather station is also being considered for the high school, which will enable students to investigate the relationship between weather and agriculture in the face of climate change. 

The Niue Food Processors’ association will also receive a worm farm and training. All groups to receive a worm farm have been briefed on where to find local worms, so as to avoid the need for bringing in worms from overseas which would pose a biosecurity risk.

This GEF project is one of three, with one also destined for Tokelau, and one for the Cook Islands.

Te Ipukarea Society would like extend our sincere appreciation to NIOFA President Maryanne Talagi, Project Coordinator Alana Tukuniu, and the executive committee of NIOFA for their support in arranging the logistics and their hospitality for the visit.

Funding was provided by the GEF Small Grants Programme Global Grants.

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